serene_quill: (Default_Gen)
[personal profile] serene_quill
Title: Pick and Choose
Author: [livejournal.com profile] serene_quill
Pairing: Ryan/Esposito, Ryan/Jenny
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1850
Disclaimer: So not mine.
Warnings: Spoilers for Castle 305 “Anatomy of a Murder” and 306 “3XK”. Angst, discussion of open relationships, and unbeta’d.
Summary: Because all the sniping needed a good back story about why Ryan and Esposito are fighting...



Esposito was glaring at him over a dumb bit of sarcasm.

And still glaring. Not just the sarcasm then, Kevin decided.

“Great, now he’s mad at me,” Kevin scoffed, but he hurried after his partner. That had actually been the third time in the past two days that Javier had been short with him, and he was clearly pissed. Which to be fair, Kevin had been furious for almost a week before that, so it had been several long days of sniping.

“Whoa, hold up,” he called out, catching the elevator with his hand and stepping in with his partner, who was still glaring. “What the hell, man?” he asked as soon as the doors were closed. “You pissed at me?”

“Aren’t you a genius?” Esposito rolled his eyes, making Kevin step back a little, automatically feeling himself take a defensive stance. “You really gonna have the balls to follow that up by asking why?”

Kevin folded his arms, sighing. “This is gonna be about Jenny, isn’t it?” he asked flatly.

“Of course I’m pissed about Jenny,” Javier shot back, hitting the stop button with more force than necessary. “You chose her.”

“You both told me to pick one of you, that I had to commit to one of you,” Kevin shot back, suddenly furious again. “Things were fine before, when I had my date nights with you, and I had my date nights with her, and everyone was fine with the open relationship. If something changed, and I don’t know about it, please, enlighten me. Because frankly, this whole thing sucks for me too, Javi. I didn’t want to choose. I want both of you.”

Esposito only stared at him, suddenly looking stricken. “I thought it was weird, both of you coming to me, saying I needed to choose,” Ryan continued, rant picking up a little speed now that he was finally letting it vent. “Haven’t a fucking clue what brought that on. Want to enlighten me?”

Esposito hit the button to release the stop, and Kevin sighed. “Of course you don’t,” he said. “Anyway, I made my choice. Sorry if you thought it would go the other way.”

“Huh, you’d been with me for four years,” Javier muttered, hunching his shoulders. “Her for two. Of course I thought it’d go my way.”

“Yeah, and what was it supposed to be between us anyway?” Ryan asked. “Just some fun we could have in between girls, right? Your words, not mine, by the way. Jenny wants something long lasting with me.”

“Whatever,” Esposito replied, glaring as he stepped off the elevator into the garage. “I have surveillance to do.”

*-*

“It’s part of my system.”

“And your system is dumb.”

Kevin slapped a file down, about ready to snap. A week and a half had passed and his partner was still sniping at his every move, even now that they were neck deep in work because of 3XK. If a serial killer couldn’t stop this feud, then there was little hope for getting past this.

“This isn’t going to work,” he said in a low tone, shaking his head. “I can’t work with you insulting every move I make.”

“Well, if you didn’t do such dumb things, maybe I’d be less critical,” Esposito replied snidely, removing a file from Kevin’s pile.

“This is how you want it?” Kevin demanded, snatching the file away. “Look, we knew this would happen eventually, and we both swore to step back and be cool about it.”

“Well, that was dumb of both of us,” Javier replied, pushing his chair back slightly. “And maybe, just maybe, over the course of years, feelings change and that promise wasn’t exactly feasible anymore.”

“So after we wrap this case, I’ll talk to Montgomery,” Kevin said, his jaw gripping tightly. “I’ll get myself reassigned, maybe to the 14th. They need extra hands in homicide over there.”

“Whoa, wait a minute,” Javier started, and Kevin stood, roughly slapping the file into his chest.

“No, Javi, that’s the end of the discussion,” Kevin replied. “I can’t do my job with you at my throat. You and Jenny told me to decide, and I did. I’d have been happier things hadn’t changed. I’m sorry you don’t like the outcome, but you’re the ones who forced me to decide. ”

He strode away, determined to get some coffee, cool down, and tackle Beckett’s files next.

*-*

“Ryan needs an ambulance.”

“No, I don’t!”

As soon as Kevin moved his head, he regretted that rash decision. His head was roaring suddenly, and he saw his partner’s lips move. He blinked, letting the rush of blood behind his ears quiet to a dull rush, and the world came back into focus. “Okay, hold on, Kev,” Javier said gently, and two quick flicks of a knife had his hands freed, Esposito’s fingers gently rubbing feeling back into his fingers as he slowly helped his partner sit up.

“How’s your head?” Javier asked quietly, dark eyes searching Kevin’s, hands still tangled together under the guise of helping him regain feeling.

“Not good,” Kevin admitted, the room swimming around him a little. Esposito shifted a little, using his shoulder as a head rest for Kevin. “Better,” he commented, licking his lips and tasting blood as he did. “Am I bleeding?”

“A little,” Javier replied, poking none too gently at the bruise on his temple. “Small cut, on your lip, black eye in the works, but the head wound isn’t too bad. Concussion maybe, but your brains are still inside that hard head of yours.”

“Easy for you to say,” Kevin replied, pulling away slightly.

“Well, you’ll have to get checked out, sure, but then we’ll have proof there is a brain in there,” Esposito teased him lightly, helping him slowly to his feet. “Come on, or I’ll have to carry you.”

“No, thanks,” Kevin blanched, shaking his head slowly so he wouldn’t upset his equilibrium. “Hey, you’re being nice to me again,” he observed as they reached the doorway.

“Even with a broken heart, I wouldn’t pick on you when you’re hurt,” Esposito replied gruffly. “Just take it easy,” he said when Kevin tried to turn to look at him and only succeeded in making himself dizzy.

“Why would you have a broken heart?” Kevin asked, blinking in bafflement at Esposito. His answer was interrupted by Castle swooping in and supporting his other side, giving him better balance.

It was almost four hours later, being driven home by Esposito, that Kevin finally got a chance to ask, “You in love with me, Javi?”

Javier turned just enough to look at him, then sighed. “Why didn’t you just say so?” Kevin demanded, sitting up straight. “Is that what this whole making me pick thing has been about?”

Javier’s fingers tightened on the steering wheel, knuckles turning white. “Jenny came to me, said she was in love with you. Asked me to leave or she’d ask you to choose. I couldn’t let go without a fight.”

“So you decided to make me choose,” Kevin filled in, letting his head rest against the cool glass of the window. “So why didn’t you say you were in love with me? Why not lay it all out there?”

“I guess… I was hoping I wouldn’t have to,” Javier admitted. “Four years, Kev. I just sort of thought it was a given. And that we wouldn’t be asking you to pick if we didn’t both love you enough to be selfish that way.”

He pulled up to the curb, and Kevin waited till the car was in park before reaching over and pulling Javier into a hard, demanding kiss, ignoring the little throb of pain from his split lip. “You want me to choose still?” he demanded, not allowing the other man to answer, pressing their lips together roughly and swallowing the answer. “Because, honestly, I love you both,” Kevin said, shrugging helplessly. “The only reason I managed to make a choice was because she said she loved me. And you were supposed to be a casual thing.”

“That didn’t work out so well, huh?” Esposito replied dryly.

“You still want me to choose, don’t you?” Kevin asked again, feeling an odd sensation in his gut. Deep down, he knew he couldn’t actually choose.

“I’m sorry,” Javier replied, not meeting Kevin’s gaze. “I can’t share you anymore. Hurts too much.”

Kevin hooked his fingers around the door handle, stopping when Javier curled his fingers around Kevin’s elbow. “Look, Kev… even though I’m pretty sure you’ll still pick her, just…” he bit his lower lip, and then in a rush added, “Stay my partner.”

“You sure?” Kevin asked, frowning as Javier thought it over.

“No one I trust at my back more,” he replied gruffly. “And I’ll work on keeping the bitching in check.”

“Javi,” Kevin murmured, but his partner stopped him.

“Don’t,” Javier replied. “The no bitching thing only works if you either keep a bit of distance till I’m feeling better or if… if things don’t work out with you and Jenny.”

Kevin slammed the car door behind him, looking up at his apartment building, where a light was waiting on in the bedroom. He suddenly needed time and space to think, so he hit the rooftop button once he stepped into the elevator.

He found his usual perch on the rooftop, looking out over Manhattan, and settled in to think.

“Kevin?”

He turned, smiling at Jenny as she joined him at the ledge, eyes trained upward and not wanting to look over. “Sorry, didn’t want to keep you up,” he lied, taking the hand she offered.

“It’s okay,” she told him, tucking a scarf around his throat. “Cold up here.”

“Why’d you ask me to choose you or Javi?” Ryan asked, grimacing at the tone. “Sorry, guess that was out of nowhere.”

“You can’t be in love with two people, Kevin,” Jenny told him, sitting back in the chair she’d left further from the ledge. Her fear of heights amused him a little. “But I knew both of us were in love with you. I hoped it might be easier for one of us if we asked you to pick…”

“God, Jenny,” Kevin laughed bitterly, shaking his head. “You know I love you, right?”

“Yeah, I know,” she admitted, smiling a little ruefully. “And I knew it when I asked you to pick.”

“Thing is, I love Javi too,” Kevin replied, shaking his head. “I’ve been miserable. Because you both asked me to pick.”

Jenny was silent for a long moment. “Or maybe you don’t love either of us,” she said finally. “Not enough to pick anyway.”

“Maybe not,” Kevin replied a little coldly, matching her tone with a shrug. “I’m betting you don’t want things to go back the way they were before, either, do you?”

“You’re not supposed to be with two people,” Jenny replied, standing up. “I’m going to bed, Kevin. Coming?”

“I’ll be down in a minute,” Kevin replied. He watched his breath curl away in the cold morning air, just as thin and indecisive as he felt.

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